A traffic stop that turned into a potentially deadly struggle over a gun brought to life “probably the worst fear a police officer and the officer’s family has every time the officer goes to work,” a judge said Wednesday before sentencing the man who fired the gun at police.
Norman Conner, 32, of Columbus, was sentenced to 22 years in prison by visiting Judge Charles Wittenberg in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. The judge ordered Conner to serve the sentence at the same time he completes an eight-year prison term for being a felon in possession of a firearm. “Every time a police office stops an automobile, he or she does not know what to expect, and with the proliferation of handguns on the streets, I think the odds of someone in the car having a handgun have increased dramatically over the last several years,” Judge Wittenberg said.
Conner was found guilty last week of two counts of felonious assault with firearms specifications after a bench trial before Judge Wittenberg. Conner was acquitted on a third count of felonious assault.
On Feb. 5, 2011, Conner was a passenger in a car driven by Raishaun Williams when police stopped the vehicle and Conner reached for a loaded 9mm handgun under the seat. He fired one round toward Sgt. Daniel Raab that struck Mr. Williams in the leg, and, during a struggle with officers outside the car, he fired another round that nearly struck Officer Ward Lemke’s head.
Frank Spryszak, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, pointed out that Conner had a prior conviction for felonious assault with a firearms specification. “I think it’s clear Mr. Conner is a dangerous individual, especially when he’s around handguns,” Mr. Spryszak said.
Before a courtroom filled with Toledo police officers, both in and out of uniform, Conner turned around and apologized, saying he was just glad no one was seriously hurt.
While defense attorney Dave Klucas argued the incidents were part of one course of conduct and therefore should not warrant consecutive sentences, the judge disagreed, saying Conner twice pulled the trigger and twice nearly shot two officers.
Conner asked the judge to appoint an attorney to file an appeal.
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